Sanderling Wilcox Cart

by Ashley Weeks Cart

Introducing Sanderling Wilcox Cart. Our sweet baby boy, Sander.

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His big sisters are positively smitten and our hearts are finding comfort and healing in his arrival.

Born March 7, 2016 at 1:11am in Bennington, Vermont. Weighing in like Big Sister Sunny at 9lbs 1oz, and arriving Sunny Side up just as she had. His birth was so very different than I had envisioned just three weeks prior, but it was no less surrounded by love. He is here. And healthy. And I am so relieved.

While his arrival has shepherded in a new stage of grief and deeply complicated emotions, he has become my anchor. He grounds me when I feel my most out of control, and I am endlessly grateful for the balance and light he provides during a time that would be otherwise so very dark.

His name, Sanderling, was given to him by his Momar in a phone conversation she and I shared the night before her passing. At the time, we were just touching base about her planned visit to Vermont the following day to help with the kids during their February vacation. It was not an extended phone call, but I am so unbelievably grateful that we had the chance to speak to one another (rather than just exchange a quick text) before she died mere hours later.

We exchanged details about their planned arrival, some thoughts on activities with kids for the week, and then she steered the conversation to baby names. She was absolutely bewildered that James and I had yet to decide on a name for this baby. We had a number of ideas we were considering, but nothing had really grabbed us. And eh, third baby, we just hadn’t fixated on the issue and thought it’d be resolved upon meeting him/her. She found this silly, and wanted to talk through the names on our list, while suggesting some other ideas we might consider. I kept brushing her off and reminding her, “Mom, I’m going to see you tomorrow. We can talk about this in person all week.”

The painful irony of those words guts me every time I relive them.

She finally acquiesced.

Fine, fine. But one last thing, I’m just going to remind you of something I always thought would make a wonderful name… Sanderling.

I think I muttered something like, Yeah, yeah, I know. Alright, I love you. Safe travels. See you tomorrow. 

And that was that. My final conversation with my mother. In that moment, she unknowingly gifted our family with a name for her third grandchild, and got her way in the process. This baby was named before his arrival. She would have loved that.

For some context, Sanderling is the name of a beach resort in The Outer Banks of North Carolina where our family vacationed each summer when I was a child. Since my pregnancy with Addison, she’d mentioned that she had always thought that it would make a beautiful name for a person. While James and I thought it was a perfectly lovely name, we weren’t particularly convinced we were up for such an unusual selection. That phone conversation and all that has happened since has changed everything.

While we were convinced it was the right name for this baby fairly quickly in the days following her death, the idea was solidified when we flipped our calendar to the month of March. Each year we receive the Bermuda Watercolour Recipe Calendar from James’ Bermudian grandmother. Each month features a watercolor highlighting an element of Bermudian culture, complete with recipes and facts about Bermuda. When we flipped to March, we were met with a beautiful painting of none other than a Sanderling, complete with a description of this sweet, little shore bird written on the page.

James and I were both thunderstruck.

I remember whispering, Hi, Mom, and feeling a deep, calming sense of her presence.

Truly, what a gift for our family. And for our son. He will carry the love and light of his Momar both in spirit and name, and forever have a story linking him to his grandmother. She already loved him so dearly. While they will never have the chance to meet earth side, he is an ever-constant reminder and piece of my mom. 

While my heart breaks a little more every day, this baby is building new uncharted valleys and mountains of love to balance the gapping canyon in my heart.

Welcome, Sander. You are so desperately loved.